Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Microbial Valentines Day---In Words of Living Light!

Well, time is flying, yet again!  I am beginning to get a better handle on my time, but still feel like I am swimming upstream.

But blog posts are not going to happen unless and post them.  There is a great deal that is going on for me professionally that I hope to announce soon, but in the meantime, here is a short post.

Valentines Day is fun for many people.  I certainly have enjoyed it a great deal over the years.  So why not mix it up with microbiology?

Most people who know me (or read this blog) are aware that I enjoy "painting" or "writing" with bioluminescent bacteria.  I then photograph the results in the dark.  For example, here is such an illustration featuring my undergraduate laboratory students.

I usually "paint" or "write" with Photobacterium leignothi, a bacterial strain originally isolated from Kaneoh'e Bay in Hawai'i by my friends and colleagues Eric Stabb and Ned Ruby.  It's very bright indeed, and perfect for this purpose.

So with that in mind, why NOT a "Living Valentines Day" card for my lovely and brilliant bride Dr. Jennifer J. Quinn of the University of Washington - Tacoma?

I even wrote a little Valentines Day poetry for her in living light.

But I also wanted to give a bioluminescent "shout out" to all of my microbiologist friends and colleagues.  So...

The entire process of light production by marine bacteria follows the density dependent process of quorum sensing (a concept that my poor students hear about endlessly from yours truly).  In any event, it occurred to me that the basic concepts of quorum sensing were worked out in luminous marine bacteria.  So why not write a "microbial haiku" about quorum sensing, appropriately illuminated by bioluminescence?

It's actually fairly challenging to write many words on Petri dishes with swabs (my normal way of carrying out this kind of task).   So I again tried a "Burma Shave" approach,  trying to write with toothpicks below.  It's not as even as I would like, but is another strategy.

Next time, sterile fine paint brushes?  If this keeps up, I will have to learn to paint as my wife does! 

In the meantime, I hope that everyone had a fabulous---even glowing---Valentines Day!